Yesterday was a very strange day. I felt so disconnected from everything that happened last year and ended up feeling more sad about my own numbness than anything else. The anniversary of Mark’s death felt like less a day of remembrance and more a marker of how long it had been; how much had changed. I spent much of the day just wondering if and when it would hit me again. It didn’t hit me when I posted Egress. It didn’t hit me on Twitter, watching and reading all the posts made in his memory. In fact, this was just unsettling.
I ended up reading Mark’s essay Touchscreen Capture and after that I had to leave the house.
If, in medieval theology, purgatory was a transitional state, in which souls were purified on their way to heaven, then what the modern era has invented is the purgatorial as a mode in its own right. Is this not the mode of Beckett’s universe – a universe in which compulsion and waiting never end, a universe without any possibility of climax, resolution or transformation, a universe that is closed, but which will never finally run down into a state of total entropic dissolution?
Walking around, I ended up thinking again about the day that we found out Mark had died – which was actually a year ago today, the 14th. So many of us were sent into flight. Immediately people dropped everything and attempt to gather from around London to all be in the same place. On my way to meet with others, I dropped my wallet in a moment of distraction and spent 4 hours in a bus garage waiting for it to be returned when someone got off their shift, rendered totally impotent. I was unable to get home to be alone and unable to get north of the river to be with people I knew and who felt the same way. I first cried about Mark in the canteen of that bus garage, avoiding eye contact with bemused drivers on a coffee break.
Meatspace can feel just as purgatorial as the internet in grief.
I ended up meeting friends in a pub at around 11pm yesterday. The day itself had been surreal in its dullness. I’d seen a friend from back home who was down for the evening before a flight the next day and I hadn’t seen her in person for well over a year. I kept chastising myself for not thinking about Mark and for doing something unrelated to his memory but then when I did focus of him and this time last year I felt desperate for distraction.
In the pub in New Cross, we read Nina Power’s beautiful tribute, laughing joyfully at the photographs within. Mark’s various phases of dyed hair were the stuff of legend amongst his students who couldn’t imagine the seemingly reserved man we knew with anything as outlandish as red hair…
We went to the mural shortly afterwards. Earlier in the day, people had brought flowers and candles. I was sad to have missed it. I missed Mark. It hit me then.